The Black Power Mixtape

Over the weekend I watched the Black Power Mixtape. I found it interesting for a couple reasons:

  • we don’t hear about most of the people in the movie even though many of them play important parts in our history–Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, Shirley Chisholm, …–and here we actually see interviews with them. We also see extended pieces about the Black Panthers, much of it from their perspective.
  • the reports and interviews are from an outside perspective and so we see the US from a different perspective. The clips were from news reports by Swedish reporters and, during this period, the US and Sweden did not have very good relations (the US recalled its ambassador in 1968 and left the position vacant until 1970, then froze relations in 1972–both times because of comments by the Swedish Prime Minister). And you can tell, the reports make it seem like parts of the US were similar to a third world country with a terrible system of justice. It was certainly true that many or most blacks did live in third world conditions and didn’t receive fairness in the justice system, but you wouldn’t have seen this shown quite so starkly on US TV.

In some ways, I liked the extras more than the actual movie. In the extras there are extended pieces on Carmichael, Davis, Chisholm, and Louis Farrakhan and all of them are fascinating. You should watch it.

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